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Kitchen Spring Cleaning Guide: The Fridge

by thisjess.cooks
Jess is taking produce out of the fridge for a deep spring cleaning

The first truly warm weather days are here! The windows are finally open, flowers are blooming, and suddenly I have so much energy for doing small around-the-house projects and cleaning out areas that have been a bit neglected all winter (or, more likely, used hard and need a bit of a reset).

Since we’re all foodies here, one area that gets used pretty hard is the kitchen. A lot of ingredients move in and out, but let’s admit it — there are a few that get stuck there. That random bottle of an obscure condiment you swore you would use? Or the fancy olive oil you’re reserving for “special occasions” but have yet to touch? Something you tried and didn’t like, or duplicates of spices you forgot you already had?

Of course, if things are expired, we can all admit it’s time for them to go, but at the VERY least, once per year you should take a look at everything that you have in three key areas:

  • The fridge
  • The freezer
  • The pantry

We’re going to split these into separate posts, but we’ll be covering the fridge here. Once you’ve tackled that, be sure to check out my guide on spring cleaning your freezer and your pantry!

Let’s start with the fridge

For some, the fridge is an easy area that has really high turnover; for others, this is an area that gets jam packed with condiments, and maybe you can’t remember the last time you saw the bottom of your vegetable drawers. 

  1. It’s cleaning time 

First, take everything out of the fridge and clean the shelves, walls, drawers and doors. They’re areas that don’t get cleaned very often, and look incredible as soon as they do (one of those “why don’t I do this more often?” things, but honestly — because it’s the fridge!)

This might be just a simple wipe down with a Lysol wipe, or a full all-pieces-in-the-sink operation. Once the shelves, drawers, etc. are clean, dry and back where they go, it’s time to re-stock. 

  1. Take stock and cull your items 

Take a look at all that you took out of the fridge and ask yourself:

  • Are any of these items expired / gone bad? Throw them away! (And let’s make sure we’re clear here, we’re all recycling / composting, etc. where possible, right??)
  • Are any of these items duplicates that could be combined (for example, two bottles of the same kind of ketchup). Combine them!
  • Are any of these items you’re never going to use? Maybe you tried it and didn’t like it, or bought something specific for a guest that was staying that one time. Whatever the reason, if you’re not going to use it, either give it to someone that will (a friend, family member, neighbor, etc.) or throw it away. 
    • Another way to think about this: have you used this item in the past year? If the answer is no, then you’re not going to and it should be thrown out (even if it hasn’t expired already). 

You might still have some duplicates, or perhaps you now remember that you have something in there you DO want to use! It’s a good reminder to yourself so you’ll actually use it next time!

  1. Think about organization 

Once you know what is going back in the fridge, think about how you’re going to do it:

  • Is there anything here that would benefit from a different kind of storage? Should you get a few clear plastic organizing bins to help store smaller items that you have a lot of? Would a turntable storage tray help you reach things that tend to get lost at the back?
    • I LOVE these iDesign storage bins and this iDesign Turntable organizer (available on Amazon, but you can also buy at Target, The Container Store, and I even saw some the other day at Lowe’s!). They come in a wide range of sizes and the clear plastic let’s me see what’s inside while also being easy to clean.
  • Is there anything you’re storing in your fridge that doesn’t really need to be there? Maybe an odd question, but sometimes you need to ask! For example, unopened canned items — those are shelf-stable. If you have the space, move them out of your fridge and to the pantry. 
  • While you’re starting from an empty fridge, think about where you want things to go. It’s a clean slate! You don’t need to put things back to where they were before, so feel free to organize however makes the most sense for you!

There is nothing better than a clean (and then, well-stocked) fridge to really get the creative cooking juices flowing! Even if you only do this once per year, it’s enough to keep from accumulating things you don’t use and that make your fridge feel cluttered. 

Good luck with the cleanout and let me know how it goes! Are there any other fridge cleanout / fridge storage hacks you use? I’d love to hear!

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2 comments

Kitchen Spring Cleaning Guide: The Freezer – This Jess April 14, 2021 - 8:51 pm

[…] tackling the freezer today! If you missed it, our first post covered what you should consider when spring cleaning your fridge, and we’ll be doing the pantry […]

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Kitchen Spring Cleaning Guide: The Pantry – This Jess April 14, 2021 - 8:53 pm

[…] you missed the previous posts, be sure to check out our guide to spring cleaning your fridge and your freezer. At a very minimum, take a deep clean of these three areas once per year to make […]

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